Read Women of Victorian Sussex: Their Status, Occupations and Dealings with the Law, 1830-1870 by Helena Wojtczak Online

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This groundbreaking book shatters many myths about the lives of working women in 19th-century England. We move amongst publicans and pew-openers, pickpockets and poisoners, taking in courtroom dramas and domestic battles, as the social and legal status of women is examined in a wide-ranging overview that is constantly enlivened by fascinating local detail. As the story unfThis groundbreaking book shatters many myths about the lives of working women in 19th-century England. We move amongst publicans and pew-openers, pickpockets and poisoners, taking in courtroom dramas and domestic battles, as the social and legal status of women is examined in a wide-ranging overview that is constantly enlivened by fascinating local detail. As the story unfolds we find women at work in 180 occupations. We meet some memorable characters trying to survive in the male-dominated world of Victorian society. Some beat the system; some are destroyed by it; others live outside it. Their stories are told in this absorbing study, richly illustrated with newspaper reports and advertisements, providing a unique historical resource....

Title : Women of Victorian Sussex: Their Status, Occupations and Dealings with the Law, 1830-1870
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ISBN : 9781904109051
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Women of Victorian Sussex: Their Status, Occupations and Dealings with the Law, 1830-1870 Reviews

  • Amelia
    2018-10-25 18:04

    Most people will have at least a vague idea of what life might have been like for the Victorians. Where Women of Victorian Sussex comes in is adding depth and fleshing out the details. It is all too easy to generalise and forget that in amongst those sweeping statements were not just numbers, but real people. It doesn't get much more real than this. Wojtczak focuses on a relatively small area - Sussex - and a short time period - about 40 years - and this enables her to really get up close to her subject. And while this certainly included some surprises - not least when looking at some of the women's occupations (!) - it also really brought home some of the things I already knew. It's one thing to say 'women didn't have the vote, they had almost no rights, they were slaves to their husbands, they were forced into prostitution to feed their families...' etcetera, but when you are looking at accounts of an actual woman, it's... so much more emotive. Definitely one to rile up your inner feminist, this one!The highlights for me were some of the social commentaries by people who actually had some insight into the injustices of the day. Two in particular that stood out I've summarised. They are a tad bit long, so feel free to consider this the end of the review should you not be interested in reading them!Infanticide. April 4, 1860 a letter, referring to the case of Caroline Martin... I do not, I cannot believe that any woman in this country would destroy her infant (though illegitimate) if she had the sympathy and support of the father of that child... therefore whoever the father of such 'slaughtered innocents' may be, he is not only a villain and a coward, but accessory to the murder... Society, too, had no need to put its dear self in a flurry and wonderment at such murders... a seducer or debauchee is not repudiated by this said society; nay, the veriest rake is admitted into respectable (?) society... But when a girl has fallen, then society is indignant; and in excess of modesty and virtue (!) I suppose it perhaps may be, kicks her, and her child too, to the streets - to starvation - anywhere; and pretends to wonder why such should, in dread of all this, conceal her infant's birth, and, to save her own social, if not natural, life, destroy that... It is hypocritical mockery to talk severely of child-murder while the partner of the first crime goes unscathed. It is adding injustice to misery to punish that severely until society demands vigorously chastity in men as well as chastity in women. And is it not a stupid, sanctimonious farce to jealously exclude from public balls, soirees etc some females of tarnished reputation, while the partakers of their iniquity are admitted, courted, and honoured?The Great Social Evil, February 4th 1858 - a letter in The TimesNow, what if I am a prostitute, what business has society to abuse me? Have I received any favours at the hands of society? If I am a hideous cancer in society, are not the causes of the disease to be sought in the rottenness of the carcass ?...We come from the dregs of society, as our so-called betters term it. What business has society to have dregs—such dregs as we? You railers of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, you the pious, the moral, the respectable, as you call yourselves, who stand on your smooth and pleasant side of the great gulf you have dug and keep between yourselves and the dregs, why don’t you bridge it over, or fill it up, and by some humane and generous process absorb us into your leavened mass, until we become interpenetrated with goodness like yourselves?... It is a cruel calumny to call them in mass prostitutes; and, as for their virtue, they lose it as one loses his watch who is robbed by the highway thief. Their virtue is the watch, and society is the thief. These poor women toiling on starvation wages, while penury, misery, and famine clutch them by the throat and say, ‘Render up your body or die’. Admire this magnificent shop in this fashionable street... the respectable master of the establishment keeps his carriage and lives in his country-house. He has daughters too; his patronesses are fine ladies, the choicest impersonations of society. Do they think, as they admire the taste and elegance of that tradesman’s show, of the poor creatures who wrought it, and what they were paid for it? Do they reflect on the weary toiling fingers, on the eyes dim with watching, on the bowels yearning with hunger, on the bended frames, on the broken constitutions, on poor human nature driven to its coldest corner and reduced to its narrowest means in the production of these luxuries and adornments? This is an old story! Would it not be truer and more charitable to call these poor souls ‘victims’ ? — some gentler, some more humane name than prostitute — to soften by some Christian expression if you cannot better the un-Christian system, the opprobrium of a fate to which society has driven them by the direst straits? What business has society to point its finger in scorn, to raise its voice in reprobation of them? Are they not its children, born of the cold indifference, of its callous selfishness, of its cruel pride?" I stumbled across this in a charity shop and I'm rather glad I found it. It was nowhere like as dry as I feared it might be and I feel as though it has given me so much more insight into the lives of women. A rather interesting read.